Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Denver Nuggets Preview

Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3) +6, o/u 206 at Denver Nuggets (4-3), 9 pm Eastern Monday
by Zman of

Three of the biggest names in professional basketball meet on-court when LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers meet Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and the Denver Nuggets Monday night in the Mile High City.

Both teams are off to decent starts this season. Cleveland, winners of two games in a row after beating the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday 103-95 (shooting 51% from the field in the process), are 4-3 and in second place in the Central Division, a game and a half back of the first-place Detroit Pistons. The Cavaliers are also 3-2 thus far on their current six-game road trip through part of the Western Conference.

Denver is also 4-3 and has won two in a row after rallying from 25 points down to beat the Indiana Pacers Saturday 113-106. So the Nuggets sit in second place in the Northwest Division, a game back of the first-place Utah Jazz.

So far this season, Cleveland is 3-4 against the spread, but 3-2 both straight up and ATS on the road. On the other side of this match-up, Denver is also 3-4 vs. the numbers this season, 1-1 both SU and against the spread at home.

Last season, the Nuggets won both of the inter-conference matches vs. the Cavs, winning 110-99 in Denver in January and 105-93 in C-Town in March. In the two games together, Denver shot an impressive 55% from the floor (84-153), and held Cleveland to 44% (76-174) shooting. Rebounding was almost even, with the Nuggets holding an 82-80 edge in the two games. Also, while the first game went over its total of 195 by 14 points, the second games stayed under its total of 205 by seven points.

So far this season, the Cavs, despite their winning record, are getting outscored on average 99-97, and getting outshot from the field 45% to 44%. But Cleveland is outrebounding foes on average 46-41. Also, Cleveland is again having trouble making its free-throws. The Cavs ranked 29th in the league last year (that’s out of 30 teams, sports fans) with a 69.5% success rate from the line, and this year they’re also ranked 29th at 67%.

Meanwhile, Denver is outscoring opponents this season by a 106-103 per-game margin, and outshooting foes 46% to 45% from the floor. And the Nuggets are shooting 75% from the free-throw line. But Denver is getting outrebounded by a 47-44 per-game margin.

These two teams have played one common opponent so far this young season. The Cavs beat the New York Knicks 110-106 in Cleveland 10 days ago, but couldn’t cover the spread as five-point home favorites. On the other side, the Nuggets lost to the Knicks in New York 119-112 last week as three-point road chalk.

The o/u is 4-3 so far this season in Cleveland games, which are averaging 196 points per, while the totals are also 4-3 in Nuggets games this season, which are averaging 209 points per.

Denver opened as 6 1/2-point home chalk for Monday night’s game at most basketball sportsbooks, with a total of 206, and those number have held steady in early betting action. Also, the Nuggets are listed at right around -290 on the moneyline, with the Cavs getting +225 as road dogs.